Whale hugger, photographer, deckhand, and music lover
When you climb aboard a whale-watching cruise in Port Stephens, the one thing you’re really hoping for is to catch a glimpse of the many whales making their migration north, but what makes even more special? When you have someone on board with such in-depth knowledge of the mammals to make your experience not only amazing but informative.
Meet Lake Macquarie local, and long-time whale lover; Lisa Skelton.
Growing up around the water in Lake Macquarie has seen Lisa foster a deep love and curiosity for the life it sustains, particularly for marine mammals.
Lisa has been working as a naturalist and deckhand for ecotourism company, Imagine Cruises in Port Stephens since 2013, and you’ll now find her taking groups out on the Envision boat with Aquamarine Adventures from May to November each year.
Whilst watching the whales breach and make their way along the coastline is inspiring, some of the more incredible moments are found beneath the waves.
“The haunting Humpback song is performed by all of the males in a population. It’s thought to be a way of organising relationships among males to determine which will compete for females.
“Each Summer the song is rewritten. It’s similar in structure to a song as we know it – with a verse, a hook line, and a bridge. Just like us, the whales rehearse sections before sounding the full, musical masterpiece.”
Onboard, she’ll be eagerly scanning the water for the first sign of a whale, all whilst answering any questions you may have about the huge mammals. Pull up alongside the whales and watch as Lisa pulls out her mighty camera to capture the animal in motion.
“A few years ago I picked up a camera looking to snap a couple of whale shots that captured the beauty of these animals; shots that gave you the same excitement and gut feeling that you get seeing them at that moment. That’s always been, and still is, the motivation for clutching the camera.”
Not only the areas resident whale whisperer Lisa also knows by name, many of the 100 or so wild bottlenose dolphins that live and play in the bay. Several of which are named after famous Star Wars characters.
Lisa is also a member of the Marine Parks Association, a community-based platform created to support marine parks and sustainable marine resource management in Port Stephens; where she utilises her love of photography to update and maintain a population census of the areas resident Bottlenose Dolphins.
“This has bettered my understanding of our dolphins and allows me to provide others with a more intimate look at their day-to-day lives - to personalise each experience for guests onboard our vessels and hopefully forge a deeper connection and respect for the animals and the environment they inhabit.”
To catch a glimpse of the whales yourself, and to hear more from Lisa you can book your spot on the Envision whale cruise here.